Friday, October 7, 2016

October, 2016, Part 5, Poltiical Class Insanity: No Respect For John Kerry, The Eating Habits Of Drunk College Students And More

It is the beginning of another month which means it is again time to review the latest political class insanity from Washington and around the world. Political class insanity takes many forms including the wasting of taxpayer wealth, criminal fraud within government programs, inane and stupid political quotes and actions, the inability to create and implement effective and efficient government programs, stupid and ill performing economic policies and strategies, and other forms of insanity that continue to evolve and surprise and shock us.

The current monthly record for the number of posts that were needed to cover one month's worth of insanity is ten. We equaled that record last month when we needed ten days to cover one month’s worth of political class insanity. There is a very good chance that the ten day record could fall this month since as we get closer and closer to the election, the volume of ineptness grows almost exponentially. 

But today and for all of the posts this month, let’s start off with a welcome piece of honest political dialog. It comes from a State Department spokesperson. Mark Toner, who is about to start the daily State Department press briefing. In a joking matter, he makes the following quote: "Welcome to the State Department. I think we have some interns in the back. Welcome. Good to see you in this exercise in transparency and democracy." 

He then burst out laughing at his own quote, indicating he also knew what a joke the Obama administration has been, especially Mr. Toner’s State Department, when it comes to cover ups, lack of transparency, denial of Freedom of Information Act requests, the prosecution of whistleblowers, etc. But at least it was a little refreshing to finally hear some actual honesty out of Washington as we see from the actual clip of the news conference:

With that context of honesty, let’s see what other insanity has been going down:

1) Michael Tanner, writing an article for the Cato Institute on September 22, 2016, talked about the latest iteration of the annual analysis, “Index of the Economic Freedom of the World.” The index is compiled every year by a group of 70 think tanks from around the world. It rates every country along a set of measurements that include the size of government, tax burdens, regulatory burdens, property rights, and other measures to come up with a relative measure of how freely a country’s economy functions. History has shown that the freer an economy is allowed to function, the more likely it is to grow rapidly and prosper. 

So how did the U.S. do this year? Let’s look at some history and results over time:
  • In the year 2000, the U.S. was ranked as the second freest economy in the world.
  • By 2009 we had lost some of our relative freedom but still ranked in the top ten countries of the world.
  • In the latest index calculations, we have dropped down to number 16, sandwiched between Lithuania and Malta.
  • Recall that Lithuania was once part of the USSR, an economic situation that no one would ever call free by any measurement.
  • Canada ranked number five meaning that it was much easier and likely more financially attractive to do business in Canada than in the United States by a very large margin.
  • Underneath the total index we see that we ranked a dismal 78th when it comes to the size of our Federal government, not surprising given the huge sizes of our Federal annual budget deficits every year since Obama took over.
  • Ranking 78th on size of government now makes us worse in this area than even most of the socialist governments in Europe.
  • Even more distressing, the U.S. dollar got us the top ranking in the monetary soundness measurement category as late as 2005 but since then, eleven short years later, our monetary rating has plummeted to 40th.
  • When the first index was calculated back in 1980, our legal system and respect for property rights made us number one but the latest report puts our legal system and respect for property rights 27th, right next to Rwanda and Portugal.
It seems that the political class, both Republicans and Democrats, have been busy dismantling the freest economy in the world over the past few decades and making us just another run of the mill economy with higher and higher taxes, a higher and higher regulatory burden, etc. Which is a shame since the end of World War II having the freest and least burdened economy in the world created the highest standard of living in the history of mankind. But leave it to the latest set of politicians to ruin a good thing.

As our economy and economic environment has gotten more and more bogged down, we see that there are now over 40 million Americans receiving food assistance every month, we see a labor participation rate that is lower than it has been since the 1970s, we see soaring national debt, we see stagnant wages and household income levels, we see millions of Americans who have to settle for part time work when they want full time work, we see 30-40% of American households that have none or very little savings. Cause and effect? I think so, courtesy of the worst set of American politicians ever.

2) We recently reviewed the many, many failures of U.S foreign policies and strategies under the Obama administration and the latest Secretary of State of that administration, John Kerry. That post can be accessed at:


John Kerry often ends up in this blog as a result of his inane quotes and failed policies. Today is no different. The truce/cease fire that Kerry negotiated with Russia to try and settle down the carnage and warfare in Syria, especially around the city of Aleppo, fell apart just days after it was agreed to. A convoy of humanitarian aid was headed to Aleppo when it was attacked and destroyed, killing upwards of two dozen civilians in that convoy. 

Although they denied it, the Russians and their Syrian government allies were likely to blame. As a result, the ceasefire ended almost as soon as it began and Syrian troops are massing outside of Aleppo, making preparations to attack the city, which will no doubt result in even more civilian casualties and deaths. Thus, another failure for the Obama/Kerry diplomatic skills. 

Possibly just as embarrassing, when Kerry went to the Russians to try and fix what went wrong, as reported by the Daily Caller website, “A senior Russian official said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s threat to cease all talks with Russia over Syria, amounts to an ‘emotional breakdown.’” Yes, a total lack of respect for the top international U.S. diplomat, which for this administration, is about par for the course. Pathetic and a measure of how ineffective this Secretary of State is. No one respects him, publicly accusing him of having an emotional breakdown. 

3) Let’s classify this next story as plan “oopsie.” Apparently, the Defense Department has a program that brings young Afghanistan male citizens to this country and gives them military training. The theory is that these newly trained folks will return to their native country and lead the war against the Taliban and terrorists.

That assumes they return to their country. Bill Gertz, writing for the Washington Free Beacon on September 27, 2016, reported that seven Afghan citizens that were receiving military training have disappeared from their assigned U.S. military bases and are now roaming freely within the country or the world: “During the month of September, seven Afghan students were considered absent without leave (AWOL) during international military student programs,” Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Patrick L. Evans said. Yes, seven disappeared just in a single month.

Three of the people could have possibly been involved with the bombing suspect in the recent New Jersey and New York terrorist bombings. Mr. Girtz reports that the authorities are investigating connections to see if these three people, trained militarily by our own armed forces, were somehow involved in the attacks.

The seven Afghan military trainees disappeared from U.S. training facilities around the country. You cannot get much more insane than this: bring foreigners into this country from a hotbed of terrorism, give them military training and then lose them.

4) Sometimes stories we cover are just plain stupid when it comes to government spending priorities and this is one of them. This kind of story, and tens of thousands like them, are the reasons why no American rich or poor, should pay more in taxes to the Federal government until there is some kind of financial discipline installed in the Washington bureaucracy.

Before we review this insanity from the Fix This Nation website, keep in mind that:
  • Millions of Americans go hungry every day.
  • At any time during the year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are homeless.
  • Every day, our veterans are not getting the medical care they were promised and need.
  • Every day, likely hundreds of Americans die from drug addiction.
Now, read the following disgraceful use of $50,000 of taxpayer money and decide whether a better use of that money would be for those suffering Americans listed above or simply better not to have spent it at all:
  • The National Institutes of Health is going to spend $50,000 to study how much snacking drunk college students do.
  • Over a two year period, researchers will track the drinking and eating binges of 175 freshmen at the University of Kansas.
  • They want to study the ridiculous hypothesis that drinking alcohol may lead to unhealthy eating.
  • They also want to see if heavy drinking leads to the infamous “Freshman 15” weight gain theory.
Seriously, how idiotic is this study? I can answer their research questions right now:
  1. Heavy drinking does lead to unhealthy eating. No college student ever said “give me a Budweiser and a side of broccoli.”
  2. By definition, alcohol is heavy in calories so drinking a lot as a freshmen adds to one’s body weight.
No need to waste $50,000 anymore, research questions answered.

Now, in a $4 TRILLION Federal budget, $50,000 is a tiny rounding number. However, this type of spending insanity is done hundreds of thousands of times every year by the Federal bureaucracy as the bureaucrats try to justify government jobs that are useless. This type of small insane ways to waste money multiplied over and over eventually leads to a $20 TRILLION national debt.

And while $50,000 may not be a lot to a massive Federal bureaucracy, it is a lot to a few unlucky Americans who need a meal, a roof over their heads, some needed medical care, of some drug treatment if that $50,000 was directed at the truly needy in this country.

Another day of depressing insanity from the American political class. And even more depressing, more insanity tomorrow.

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